Amneal faces hydroxychloroquine API shortage after Finland tightens production: report

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Amneal pledged late last month to donate 20 million of hydroxychloroquine to clinical studies and hospitals. (Pixabay)

In a rush to contribute an antimalarial med to the COVID-19 fight, drugmakers have promised millions of doses for clinical trials and hospitals. But one company, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, likely won't hit its pledge after the government of Finland effectively turned off the tap for necessary ingredients.

Amneal is facing a shortage of active pharmaceutical ingredients for hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial in testing to treat COVID-19, after Finland voted to prioritize domestic consumption, Reuters reported

The Finnish government's emergency order has curtailed exports of hydroxychloroquine API, endangering Amneal's pledge to donate 20 million tablets of the drug by mid-April, co-CEOs Chirag and Chintu Patel told the news service.

The order does not constitute an export ban but will likely strain supplies of the drug produced by Finnish manufacturers Orion and its subsidiary Fermion. 

Amneal is reportedly searching for alternative suppliers of hydroxychloroquine API and said it expects the supply concerns to last between two and three months. An Amneal spokesperson could not be reached for comment by press time. 

RELATED: U.S., India spar over antimalarial as COVID-19 highlights state actor role in supply chain

Finland's decision to prioritize its citizens' access to hydroxychloroquine comes after the U.S. and Indian governments recently broke an impasse over foreign supply of the antimalarial. 

Last week, India walked away from a full-scale export lockdown on hydroxychloroquine after President Donald J. Trump directly intervened. India, which produces around 47% of the U.S. supply of hydroxychloroquine, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, agreed to license its stock of hydroxychloroquine to "badly affected" countries and others that rely on its supply of the drug.

Trump has touted a combination of hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin as a potential "game-changer" in the race for a COVID-19 therapeutic as the pharmaceutical industry cycles a number of older meds through clinical trials to determine their efficacy in treating the disease. The FDA last week posted shortages of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine due to increased demand partly tied to Trump's explicit endorsement.

RELATED: FDA's Hahn: No sign China has affected U.S. drug supply during coronavirus pandemic

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